Welcome To The Harem
An Office Romance (Part 7 of 7) by Scifinerdgrl
Summary: This is my attempt to explore what Reyes could have been thinking when she got involved with Brad Follmer. This story takes place between her arrival at the New York Field Office (after graduation from the FBI academy in 1995), and her first meeting with John Doggett in 1997.
Part 2, Chapter 1
He knew it would be awkward, but it had to be done. He had to
talk to Janet about what she'd seen. After dropping Monica off
at her apartment, Brad waited in his car, double-parked, drumming
his fingers on the steering wheel. He'd seen Janet several times
a week for years, and he thought he knew her, but this morning it
was obvious to him that he didn't *really* know her. He didn't
know whether she would be disapproving, or what she would do
about it if she did. Would she report him to Williams? gossip
about them to her smoking friends? try to talk Monica out of it?
He couldn't afford to wait until the answer was obvious. He had
to ask her. The question was, how?
After a few minutes Monica returned, dressed in her most
business-like attire and smelling of delicately applied perfume.
She leaned toward him in expectation of a kiss, but he turned
away and reached for the ignition key. Monica put her hand on
his thigh and looked at him quizzically. "What's wrong?" she
Sighing deeply, he put a hand over hers. "Janet," he reminded
her. "We have to be careful, Monica. You know the rules..."
She rotated her hand until it clasped his, then squeezed it. "I
know..." she sighed. "That's why I couldn't believe you... you
were willing to be with me." She sighed again, this time more
deeply, and pulled her hand away. "I knew it was too good to be
true," she added, her voice starting to crack. He reached for her
jaw line, caressing it as he directed her face toward him. "You
have no idea how thrilled I am to hear you say that," he smiled.
"I'm not telling you this shouldn't have happened. Only that we
shouldn't get caught."
She nodded, obviously relieved. He had been all she could think
about as she dressed, the touch of her own hands as they brushed
against her skin reminding her of him. She'd never been so
completely smitten before, so completely ruled by her feelings.
It was wrong, it was against FBI policy, and it was a little
dangerous, but it was what she wanted. And she trusted her
instincts on this one. As she brushed her hair and touched up
her make-up she realized this one might be THE one, and she
caught herself smiling.
"Janet," Brad motioned to his secretary when she arrived. "Can I
speak with you a moment?"
"Of course," Janet answered, setting down her purse. "You can
speak with me anytime. I'm your secretary."
"I mean, in confidence," Brad said awkwardly. "About something
personal." He could feel the heat in his cheeks as tell-tale
pink rose to the surface. "About me and Agent Reyes. What you
saw--" he began to explain.
She put up a hand, interrupting his well-rehearsed speech.
"Everything you tell me is confidential. And everything I see is
confidential. I have security clearance, remember?"
"It's not what you think. It'll just be her," he assured her.
"I know," she nodded. "Don't give it a thought. But I would
prefer it if you locked the door first."
He let out a sigh. "So you haven't told anyone?"
"Just my sister," Janet admitted. "But who would she tell?"
Brad chuckled uncomfortably, but his relief was genuine if not
complete. "The thing is, Janet. I'm not really like that.
*She's* not like that. If we'd me under any other
Janet interrupted again. "I know," she said with almost maternal
compassion. "You're good people. And I'm glad you found each
other." She adjusted her seat and switched on her computer.
Looking over her shoulder, she added, "Just be careful, okay?"
"Thank you, Janet," he said sincerely.
"Anytime," she said, smiling. She turned the page in her
calendar and said efficiently, "You asked me to remind you to
call the car pool..."
In a semi-detached brick house in southern Bensonhurst, Janet's
sister's husband's brother's youngest daughter balanced a baby on
her knee and clamped a phone under her chin. The clear vinyl
cover on the sofa groaned loudly as she leaned back and shouted,
"I know!" Then, with as much excitement as if she actually knew
the principals involved, she said, "It's happening everywhere!
My aunt in the FBI walked in on her boss while he was boinking
some woman in his office. THE FBI!!!! Can you believe it? I
mean, if they can't keep it in their pants, who can?"
A few minutes later the phone rang at the Regali residence.
Regali listened with interest as his caller said, "Remember when
you said you'd pay good money to you to find a weak link in the
Monica sat opposite her partner, Pete Franklin, watching his
hands as they gestured over the files laid across his desk.
"I just don't see any connection, other than the pattern of
injuries, but even there you yourself admit there are variations.
How do you know these aren't just similar crimes?" he challenged
"Variations, yes," she conceded. "But within a narrow range of
possibilities, and all explainable within a single theory. I
think we're looking at someone who is experimenting, refining his
"Honing his exorcism skills?" he mocked. "Practicing exorcizing
demons on random victims? What would be the point? The victims
weren't even evil!"
"Weren't they?" Reyes challenged with equal determination. "We
all have evil within ourselves. Isn't that the basis of a lot of
religious ritual? To purge ourselves of evil, to atone for our
misdeeds, or at any rate to learn to live with aspects of
ourselves we don't like? Doesn't the Jewish faith have a process
of atonement?" she demanded.
"The ten days of repentance," he said softly, leaning back in his
chair and eyeing his new partner warily. Was she turning his
religion against him? "I know where you're going with this.
Yes, Rosh Hashanah is for reflection, and Yom Kippur is the day
of atonement. But there's no exorcism. Just prayer and acts of
"And Christianity has Holy Communion, for forgiveness of sins,"
she added. "Even without any suggestion of demon possession."
He pushed his chair back a few inches and eyed her warily. "But
that's voluntary, without any abuse, and completely in the
control of the Church. I don't see why you are trying to make
"Look," she leaned forward with confidence. "All I'm saying is
that we need to be open to the possibility. This killer is odd.
His crimes don't fit any of the standard profiles of serial
killings. We have to start with what's the same across the
cases, then look for a pattern, however bizarre, to give us some
direction. This guy doesn't think like us. We have to learn how
to think like him."
"I know that!" Pete snapped. "That's how the standard profiles
were developed in the first place!"
It was Reyes' turn to lean back in her seat and assess her
partner's motives. "So what do you think is wrong with my
He fumed for a moment then jumped to his feet and began pacing.
"The victims!" he said. "They have nothing in common." He
paused at the window and put his hands on the sill as he looked
into the air shaft. "Absolutely nothing," he muttered.
"Except that they were human," Reyes pointed out. "And all
humans are capable of both good and evil."
Franklin whirled to face her. "Not babies!" he shouted. "How do
you explain the dumpster baby?"
Reyes thought for a moment, reliving the sense of evil emanating
from the dumpster. At the time she'd assumed she was sensing the
evil of the crime that had been committed, just as she'd sensed
evil in the photos in her office. But now she wondered: could
the baby himself have been evil? "I can't explain it. But I bet
the parents can," she said significantly, raising her eyebrows.
"And until we get a match on the footprints we can't question
them. So what next?"
Smirking slightly, Pete sat down again and grabbed the files.
"Interview whoever we can," he said, knowing that she knew the
answer to her question.
"And, remember, I saw her at that restaurant. Maybe she paid
with a credit card," Monica suggested.
Part 2, Chapter 2
By the end of the day they had the last victim's name: Sheila
Binford. After delivering the news to Williams, Monica and her
partner went their separate ways: he to his family, she to the
office of the man who had been on her mind all day.
"Hi Janet," she said, using the excuse of closing the door to
avoid looking Brad's secretary in the eye. After a day of
reminiscences of her night of passion with Brad, she'd almost
forgotten about their near-miss in the office. Seeing Janet
jogged her memory.
"Hi Monica," Janet said soothingly. "He's in a meeting, but I
know he'd like to see you."
Monica blushed. "No, I don't need to see him," she stammered.
"I just wanted to give him an update on the case..."
Janet put her index finger up to shhh Monica, then hit the
intercom button. "Agent Reyes is here to see you," she said with
impersonal efficiency. She waited a moment then said, "Okay,
I'll tell her." Monica's smile, at once hopeful and dismissive,
made Janet smile broadly. "It'll only be a minute," she assured
her. When Monica sat down, balancing her briefcase in exact
duplication of the anxious Monica of her first work day, Janet
felt compelled to say something.
"Monica," Janet moved to the seat next to the younger woman. "I
want you to know, I understand." Monica opened her mouth to
object, but Janet interrupted. "I'm happy for you, and I promise
you, nothing that happens in this office leaves this office."
Monica sighed, relieved as much about Janet's approval as her
secrecy. Janet returned to her computer and made a show of
putting on her headphones and typing up the notes she heard.
Janet looked over at Monica for a moment and said, "Just be
careful," with a friendly wink.
The inner door opened, and two agents, both tall men, walked out
with serious expressions. They ignored the two women in the outer
office and proceeded directly to the outer door.
"Agent Reyes," Brad said formally as he ushered Monica into his
office, but over his shoulder he winked at Janet.
He locked the door, then grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed
her. "God, you look hot," he growled. "I've been thinking about
you all day." His hands rubbed up and down her arms, pushing her
inch by inch toward his desk until she was backed against it. He
buried his face in the hair just behind her ear, his breath
tickling the nape of her neck. She drew one leg up, teasing his
thigh with her knee. He reached under that thigh and pulled it
higher, then slid his hand along it until it could squeeze her
ass. His other hand then reached around, and the two hands
played together, alternatingly cupping then squeezing the
sensuously curved buttocks he'd been secretly eyeing since the
day he met her.
"Brad," she sighed, running her hands along his back. "We
shouldn't..." His response was to pull her toward himself, his
hands still on her ass, pressing her inward until he was sure she
felt how much he wanted her. "We're in your office," she
Brad silenced her with a kiss, the most passionate and sensuous
kiss they had yet shared. When they came up for air he said, "I
want you," in a voice that almost seemed to belong to someone
else. "You make me so hot..." he added, then silenced himself by
kissing her urgently. He slid his hands downward then pulled up
on her thighs, forcing her to sit back on his desk. A flash of
guilt passed through him as he realized the control he was
exerting over her, but when her legs wrapped around his, all
guilt vanished. "Janet knows," he whispered. "And she's okay
with it...." he said, madly planting kisses from her collarbone
to her ear and back again. "As long as we've locked the door..."
"And turned off the intercom," Janet's voice rang out from the
Monica turned around and slapped the correct button. "You're
sure?" she asked when she faced him again, but Brad didn't speak.
Instead, he buried his face in the space between her breasts and
slipped his hands under her blouse. Laughing, Monica unbuttoned
the top few buttons, giving Brad access to the silky front-hook
bra. Somehow he undid the hook with his teeth, then spared no
centimeter of her exposed skin his devoted attention. She
sighed, arching her back to meet him, and ran her fingers through
his hair. He took this as a sign to snake kisses upward to her
earlobe, and she countered by moving her hands downward, over his
chest, and toward his belt buckle. "How far can we go here?" she
asked, her index finger dipping under his waistband.
"Ugh, no condoms," he groaned quietly into her ear. Backing
away, he could see the desire he'd ignited burning in her eyes.
His hands were still on her breasts, massaging and teasing them,
their nipples hardened beyond what he'd thought possible. Moving
one hand downward, he slipped an index finger under her
waistband, matching all the motions she was making under his.
Feeling her holding her breath to make room for more, he
flattened his hand and moved it downward.
She tried to lean backward, but he grabbed her hands and pulled
her away from the desk. Walking her backwards, his mouth on her
neck for most of the journey, he pulled down on her pants and sat
her in his desk chair. "I like the way you think, Brad Follmer,"
she whispered. By the time her pants were around her ankles, his
breath was warming the insides of her thighs and setting a few
other parts of her anatomy on fire. "You're so good to me," she
sighed, spreading her legs as much as she could.
He knelt before his goddess and inhaled her incense. "I adore
you," he whispered, then began making his offering.
Monica pressed her head against the back of the chair, and her
hands clutched the arms. "Yes, yes, yes..." she chanted.
Brad moved in harmony with his goddess's wishes, and stroke by
selfless stroke, he watched and listened for signs of approval.
Monica moaned softly and slid downward to give him easier access,
and when he deftly penetrated her with his expert tongue she
gasped. "Brad..." she panted. "Don't... stop..." He worked his
magic, slurping, licking, sucking, until her breath came in
"Agent Follmer?" the intercom sounded. "A.D. Williams is here to
Brad's head snapped to attention and he slapped the buttons on
the intercom. "Yes, Janet," he said in his most officious voice.
"Just a minute please." He put a finger to his lips and nodded
to the intercom.
Monica's eyes were mere slits as she struggled to regain her
senses. She hit the correct intercom button then whispered, "You
really need to figure this thing out. It's not rocket science."
He smiled weakly and pulled her bra closed. "I'm sorry," he
whispered as he fastened the hook. "Call you?" She nodded as he
continued dressing her. He smoothed her hair as she smoothed
his, then held her head firmly in his hands. "Maybe it's just as
well we got interrupted," he said, smiling a little more broadly
as he recovered his composure. "You need more time than this."
He kissed her lightly then added, "You *deserve* more than we had
She nodded uncomfortably, still not used to such adoration, and
wiped his mouth with a kleenex. "We shouldn't be doing this
anyway," she sighed. "Want to come over later?"
"That depends on what Williams wants," he said, watching her hand
follow his lips as he spoke. "I'll call you," he promised.
Monica went to the door, armed with her briefcase, and ready to
face Williams. She turned suddenly and said, "The reason I came
here was to tell you that I found the name of the adult victim.
It wasn't what you think..."
"And the reason I wanted to see you was to give you this," he
answered, pulling a key ring from his desk drawer. "Your
carriage awaits, milady." At her surprised expression, he
explained, "The bureau's carriage awaits. Take good care of it.
I had to call in some favors to get it for you." She took the
keys and he added, "Your parking space is number 42." He kissed
her before she could speak, then said, "You're welcome."
In the outer office, Janet was leaning over, picking up her
purse, as Williams and Monica exchanged greetings. Janet met
Monica at the elevator and whispered, "You might want to check
your make-up." A flustered Monica fumbled through her
briefcase, her shaky hand finally coming up with the compact.
Janet held the briefcase as Monica struggled to put herself
together, her composure lending strength. "That was a close
call," Janet said as Monica, her face and hair now in order, took
back her bag.
"I could use a cigarette," Monica sighed. "Mind if I borrow
"I understand. I always have one before the subway anyway. I'll
join you," Janet offered, eager for some hint about what happened
on the other side of the door.
By the time Monica had become stuck in traffic on the way to
Battery Tunnel, her delight at having a bureau vehicle had faded.
The ring of her cellphone, nearly drowned out by the sounds of
honking horns, only added to her jangled nerves. "Hello," she
"Follmer here," Brad's voice said, rather formally. "I'll be
working late tonight. Can we reschedule that handball game?"
Monica sighed. Williams was still in the office. Those warnings
about workplace relationships suddenly rang true, but for
different reasons than the schoolmarmish workshop leader said.
She knew she wanted Brad, but she wanted the world to know, too.
Keeping her feelings secret wasn't just difficult. It was
Remembering back to her afternoon's frustration, she drummed her
fingers on the steering wheel and as she did with every other
frustration in her life, tried to think of a way to solve it.
Was this something the Tao could settle for her? Was there a
Buddhist approach? She thought back to her incipient belief
system and suddenly remembered seeing a pamphlet on the Ch'i of
sex. Taking advantage of the latest in a long series of
gridlocked intersections, she reached for her briefcase and
riffled through it. Behind the files, personnel fliers and car
pool regulations she found the book store flier she'd picked up
at the temple. No point in going home, anyway, she thought, and
took her first New York-style U-turn.
The store was everything she expected: incense wafted out the
door as soon as it opened, and tiny chimes announced her arrival.
The noise and frustration of Manhattan traffic receded deeper
into her subconsciousness as she browsed the books, fondled the
statuary, and sniffed the incense. She found a book called
Healing Love Through the Tao, Cultivating Female Sexual Energy.
And, lest the clerks think she was a pervert, she loaded up her
wicker basket with books, statues of fat, happy Buddhas, and
The pale-faced, black-haired, multiply-pierced shop girl rang up
her purchases with a knowing grin. "That's a great book," she
said, pointing to the one book Monica hoped the girl wouldn't
notice. "Those exercises are incredible." Monica blushed and
thanked the girl for her advice, but the girl seemed not to
understand she'd just been given perfunctory, hurried,
please-forget-you-saw-me thanks. "If you need help, there are
some sex therapists on the wall over there," she added, nodding
to a wall plastered with business cards. "Of course most of them
do other kinds of chi work too," the girl winked. "But even if
it's listed last, you can bet they do a lot of sex therapy."
"Thank you," Monica said, quickly grabbing her bag and credit
card. "I'll take a look." She walked to the wall feeling as if
she owed it to the girl to look through the cards, yet secretly
suspected she'd need one if office quickies were going to be a
way of life for her. As she looked over the cards advertising
every kind of folk medicine, Eastern philosophy, and New Age
hokum, her eyes lit on one in particular:
Title: An Office Romance, part 11
Keywords: Follmer/Reyes Romance, Pre-XF, X-File
Spoilers: Foreshadowing of Empedocles, Release
Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
An Office Romance, Part 11
Monica grabbed Sheila Binford's card from the wall and dashed out
the store, oblivious to the smirk on the face of the clerk. She
grabbed her cellphone and dialed her partner's number.
"Franklin," he answered. "This better be good. We're about to
"Pete!" Monica gushed. "I have new information on Sheila
Binford. She was a spiritual advisor, and get this! She also
advertised that she did Spiritual Cleansings! I just saw her
"Agent," Pete said condescendingly. "This can wait until
tomorrow. We're getting a search warrant for her premises,
"But--" Monica objected.
"But nothing! I'm off the clock, Agent." he snarled. "The next
time you interrupt my dinner it'd better be life or death." With
that he ended the call, leaving a hurt and frustrated Monica
sitting in her car wondering what to do next.
She dialed Brad's cellphone number. "Follmer," he answered after
"Brad?" Monica's voice was unusually high-pitched, and he didn't
answer immediately. "It's Monica. I need your advice."
"Shoot," he answered, happy to hear her voice. Williams had left
earlier, instructing him on the reports that needed to be done by
the following morning. He'd been working non-stop and welcomed
the break. Monica explained the situation, and Brad had to smile
at the naive woman's excitement over her find, and her
disappointment in her partner's response. "He's right," he
assessed. "You would have found out sooner or later, but you did
the right thing." His voice softened and he added, "Until you
have more time under your belt it's going to be hard for you to
know what's important and what can wait."
"Thanks," she said, still disappointed not to be acting on this
new lead. "You always know what to say."
He sighed. "To you, yes. And don't ask me how or why. A little
mystery is a good thing."
"So I'm not following up on this lead?" she said flirtatiously.
"I guess I'm free tonight. Want to come over?"
"Not tonight, Monica," he said. "I might not even go home to my
own apartment. I'm swamped here." He twirled his seat until he
was facing the window, the evening fog obscuring the lights of
the other office workers putting in overtime. "Why don't you
just relax, do your meditation thing, listen to some soft music,
maybe take a bubble bath?" Hearing her disappointed sigh, he
decided to add, "So you'll be well-rested when I ravage you
She sighed again. "Okay. I'll try."
"That's my girl," he said, smiling. "I know it's tough, but
we'll work things out."
"Goodnight," she said, not sure how to tell him how much she
missed having lunch with him, talking with him on long car rides,
walking down the street talking about nothing... "See you
tomorrow," she said as hopefully as she could, then hung up.
Monica wandered aimlessly around her apartment, suddenly unused
to spending the evening alone. Following Brad's advice, she
opened the tap for her bath, then dug through her sack from the
book store. She lit the scented candles, put on one of her new
CDs, then started thumbing through the book. By the time the
bubbles reached the top of the tub, the book had provided her
with a few ideas of ways to spend the evening.
Sheila Binford's "office" was the living room of her Brooklyn
apartment. Monica let Pete take the lead, and he accompanied his
methodical search with a running commentary on why he does things
differently from FBI protocol. She wasn't sure she wanted this
kind of instruction, so she sneaked away when his back was
turned. She found the bedroom, and surveyed its decorations.
The late Sheila Binford obviously had held eclectic beliefs. A
Native American Sun Catcher hung in one window, a stained glass
praying hands in the other, and one corner of the bedroom had
been decorated as an ancestor altar, with icons from several
Eastern religions competing for space. Monica sniffed the burnt
incense and the scented candles, and recognized their scents as
being common aroma therapy prescriptions. Being careful not to
touch anything, she leaned over the bed and sniffed, expecting to
find traces of aroma therapy oils with the same scents there, but
instead the faint smell of garlic rose from the pillows. Her leg
knocked against the night stand, and when Monica looked down she
realized it wasn't a night stand, it was a file cabinet.
"What are you doing in here?" Pete demanded from the doorway.
"Just checking the bedroom. I think I've found something here,"
Monica said innocently.
Veins started to appear in Pete's neck but he restrained his
voice, saying, "I told you to stay with me. Don't go off on your
own. You're still in training, and I'm in charge here. You do
what *I* tell you to. Understand?"
"But I didn't touch anything," Monica pleaded. "I was just
"Did you hear me, Agent?" Pete scolded. "I *said* don't go off
on your own. I don't care what you think..."
"Okay, okay," Monica conceded. She started for the doorway and
asked, "What did you want to show me in the other room?"
"Forget it," Pete snapped. "There's nothing there. Just a lot
of New Age nonsense."
"No evidence?" Monica asked, feeling guilty for needling him.
She couldn't help it. She was starting to loathe this man and
his arrogant attitude. After working with Brad, she knew things
didn't have to be this way.
"Evidence that she was loopy," he snarled. "And don't take that
any way but what it is. It's just a coincidence that our victim
had goofy beliefs."
"Then we shouldn't look in here," Monica suggested, walking back
toward the bed and indicating the file cabinet.
Pete bounded to the cabinet, elbowing Monica out of the way. The
labels on the two drawers read "Spirits: Calling Forth" and
"Spirits: Sending Away." Pete sniggered but nevertheless
grabbed the handle on the "Sending Away" drawer.
Monica sat on the edge of the bed, looking over Pete's shoulder
at the files, books and notebooks he thumbed through. She sighed
loudly, but Pete seemed not to notice. His running commentary
seemed to be in his head now, with no "instructional" comments to
his young partner.
"Ah-hah!" he said finally, triumphantly pulling a bound book from
the files. "Appointment book!" He moved to the chair between
the two windows and flipped through the pages, oblivious to
Pete made a few scornful grunts as he pored over the book, and
Monica took advantage of her invisibility to take a closer look
at contents of the file cabinet. At the back of the drawer,
lying flat behind the other files, were several files marked
"Case Closed" in hand-written magic marker letters. Monica
smiled at the amateurish filing system, and gently pulled up
until she had all the files in her hands.
The files seemed to be ordered by date, and Monica went
immediately to the most recent. Self-congratulatory notes
indicated the elimination of evil from the character of several
customers, but the language of the notes seemed to change.
"Pete," she said, not thinking about his reaction. "Did you see
Pete's head snapped up, and he immediately became annoyed at his
partner's unauthorized initiative. "What do you have there?"
"Cases," Monica said, thoughtfully poring over the files. "She
was doing exactly what I'd suspected. Amateurish exorcism." She
looked up to see her partner reaching for the files. She pulled
them toward her possessively. "But there's something odd here.
She started this business after calling forth spirits and not
being able to send them away again," she said, putting the files
in her lap but still holding them tightly. "She was in over her
head right from the start, but by the end," she picked up the top
file and waved it significantly. "Her last cases she was getting
quite good at it. A little too good. And her descriptions
change too. Listen to this," she said, opening the file to read
'They fight the inevitable, knowing that I am superior to them
now. My power grows with each one, and only the purest of the
Good can resist my efforts. Fortunately, this is New York.'
"Don't get too smug," Pete warned. "She's a victim, not a perp.
Your theory doesn't explain that."
"No, it doesn't," Monica said thoughtfully. "What's in her
A faint blush washed over Pete's ears as he turned the open
appointment book toward his partner. "She made notes on her
appointments, so it looks like this one," he indicated with his
long, bony finger, "was the last."
"Unless she died *at* the next one, here," Monica pointed, her
hand somehow making Pete's jump away from the page. I scare him?
she thought briefly. How was that? But she pushed those
thoughts aside and asked, "Should we call him?"
Her partner seemed a little flustered. "Yes, I think so," he
stuttered. "But we should discuss this with Williams first."
"Shouldn't we question him right away then? He could kill
again..." Monica said, her heart starting to race. "We have to
find him before..."
"Procedures, Agent Reyes," Pete chided. "Let's not get ahead of
Monica fumed silently as Pete dialed Williams on his cell phone
and moved to the other room. More as an antidote for her anger
than out of curiosity, she thumbed through the files in her hand
and mulled over the patterns that she was sure would emerge. If
only she could study these more closely...
She laid the files out on the bed, in chronological order, then
pulled out the hand-written summaries for each. As she surveyed
the pages she saw a change in the writing style, from flowery,
even and feminine to hurried, jagged writing with daggerlike
letters and sharply drawn ends. She leaned over the first one
and read the innocent musings of a spiritualist who had recently
hung out her shingle. "When the spirits come forth," she'd
written. "A chill settles in the room, but the family feels no
fear, only joy as they recognize the departed soul returning to
comfort those left behind."
Bland, very bland, thought Monica. Like the ramblings of any
bunko artist. She skipped a few then read, "The departed soul
arrived, and a dry desert wind swept through the gathering.
Unlike previous seances, this one terrified the bereaved, and the
baby, whom they brought to meet his grandfather, started to wail.
Things flew around the room and everyone was in a panic, until
suddenly all went quiet, including the baby. Everyone was
relieved, and I gave them their money back. But then I got a
call from the baby's mother..."
The page fluttered to the bedspread as Monica fought back a wave
of... not nausea, but something she'd never felt before. Horror,
perhaps? The baby had been possessed, and this woman had called
forth the ... what was it? A demon? An evil ancestor? A spirit
looking for a host? She wasn't sure she wanted to know. And
then she tried to set things right, and the child died in the
process. She remembered the case of the child killed during a
"re-birthing" procedure. Could this be the same kind of case?
Were the parents afraid of being implicated? Is that why the
baby didn't miss any missing child reports? She set the file
aside and looked through the rest, quickly coming to the case of
a mentally disabled boy who claimed to be possessed, and finding
two more cases. Monica sighed. This woman may have been in over
her head, and she suspected she might be too.
She wrote down the names of other victims then set their files
aside. As she looked toward the doorway, hoping to overhear
Pete's conversation, something niggled at her conscious, and she
reached for the appointment book. The last appointment. Pete
seemed odd after seeing the name, as if he recognized it. Monica
jotted the name in her notebook then put the appointment book
When Pete came back into the room he announced that everything
had been arranged. Forensics was on its way to collect evidence,
the files would be shared with the rest of the task force, and
all of Sheila's clients would be interviewed. Pete finished by
saying, "I'll finish securing the apartment. I've set up some
time for you at the practice range. Both of us don't need to be
here." He smiled a patronizing, controlling, scheming smile as
he escorted her to the front door, then he pushed her through the
doorway, saying, "Happy shooting."
Janet looked up to see a furious, slightly teary-eyed Monica
standing in the doorway. "Is he in?" Monica demanded.
Janet nodded and cautiously hit the intercom button, "Agent Reyes
is here to see you."
The door immediately swung open, and Brad smiled broadly. "Agent
Reyes, what a pleasant sur--"
Monica stormed past Janet's desk and through the doorway,
brushing past Brad as if he were invisible. Brad and Janet
exchanged puzzled glanced, then Brad shut the door. "What is
it?" he asked solicitously, turning her from her place at the
window, forcing her to face him. "Did I do something?"
"No, not you," Monica apologized. "It's Pete. I was right, Brad,
about everything! It's all coming together and we just found
"So what's the problem?" Brad eased her toward the visitor's
chair and leaned against the desk, looking down on her tenderly.
"You're solving the case," he said with a trace of pride.
"Pete's solving the case," Monica croaked. "He scheduled me for
target practice while he and the rest of the task force finish
collecting evidence..." Her jaw jutted forward and she exhaled
in short angry bursts. "It's not fair!"
Ahhh, thought Brad. This is the kind of thing he'd expected in
this job. Professional jealousies, mismatched partnerships,
frustrated rookies... He remembered himself in that seat a few
years ago, bringing problems to his mentor. "Tell me
everything," he urged. "What did you find?"
She pulled the notes from her briefcase and ran through the
details of the case for him. Just as he'd trained her to do,
she'd taken down all the information she'd believed pertinent and
some that might be false leads. When she looked up from her
notepad she saw his face beaming with pride. She'd taken good
notes, she realized, and she couldn't help blushing.
"Let's see the names from the appointment book," he said,
crossing to lean over her shoulder. His scent hovered over her,
making her hand shake slightly as she turned the pages. But
Monica needn't worry that they would lose control. Brad
hmm-mmm'ed through the notes until coming to the end, with an "Oh
"What?" Monica asked, turning her face upward to see his
He sighed, barely aware of her presence. "I know why Pete cut
you out of the investigation," he said. "This man," he pointed
to the last name in Monica's notes. "Travis Montagu. He's one
"One of us?" Monica repeated.
"He's in the bureau. In this building," he said, reaching into
his drawer for his gun. "Got yours?" he asked as he loaded his
and checked it. She nodded. "Let's go."
Monica followed Brad as he raced past Janet's desk, his gun
drawn. She drew her gun and matched his movements as he ran down
the emergency stairs. He paused at the door and breathlessly
instructed her, "Stay back, let me do the talking. I know this
guy." Brad grabbed her shoulder with his free hand, and said
reassuringly, "I've had my doubts about him, but I never expected
anything like this. I think I can handle him. You just back me
She nodded and followed him out the emergency door and down the
hallway. With every step she felt a growing sense of dread,
turning to nausea, and finally an intense dizziness that made her
lean against the wall for support. "Brad--" she whispered.
He turned to see her crumpling to the floor, then stooped to help
her up. "What is it?" he asked.
"Remember? When I was in your office? And I fainted?" she said.
"And then in the hall... I felt it again, when two agents and a
suspect passed by?"
Brad's brow furrowed as he struggled to remember, then realized
with a start it was the same agent. "He was in the room next
door. He and his partner were questioning the suspect..."
Monica nodded and clutched her stomach. "Give me a second," she
pleaded. "I'll be okay." With closed eyes she accessed the
peaceful part of her soul, breathing according to chi principles,
focusing her mind on strength and goodness, until finally the
nausea subsided and she felt able to continue. "I'm good," she
said, opening her eyes to see a worried Follmer. "Really. I'm
good," she repeated.
He sighed and decided to take her word for it. The pair proceeded
down the hallway until reaching the far end, where a plaque read
"Travis Montagu, Organized Crime Task Force." When he rapped on
the door, a voice called out, "Go away. I'm busy!"
"Agent Follmer here," Brad called out. "Just a minute of your
time... Please." He looked to Monica as they waited, and she
nodded that she was still feeling up to the job. He couldn't
help grinning in admiration of her courage and persistence, and
she grinned back with determination. "Agent Montagu?" Brad said
to the door. "I need to speak with you."
After waiting a moment, Brad sighed and pulled a pick from his
pocket. He nodded to Monica to watch his back, then began
picking the lock. "Ahhh..." he sighed as he felt the lock give
way. He straightened and dropped the pick into his pocket just
as the door swung open.
"What is it?" a white-haired, red-faced man in a dark suit
At the opening of the door, the death of Sheila Binford flashed
through Monica's mind. Sheila had been called by Montagu for a
consultation, but when she arrived she found an evil more
powerful than herself, more powerful than all the evil she had
absorbed. Monica could see Montagu's eyes, glowing yellow, then
red, as Sheila began to exorcize him. Montagu's voice became
deep and menacing, laughing at Sheila's ineffectual attempt.
"You dare to challenge my hold on this man? He's MINE!"
Sheila's eyes glowed yellow, then a deep golden hue, but never
red, never with the intensity of Montagu's. The two pairs of
eyes stared at each other, until Sheila began to shake.
Frantically, she pulled garlic from her bag and waved it in front
of her enemy, and when that elicited only laughter, Sheila
withdrew a silver cross and held it in front of her face.
Montagu's laugh turned even more sinister, and flames flew from
his mouth, enveloping the cross, turning it into a dense, black
fluid that spewed onto Sheila's blouse. Sheila's hands burned
like torches, and she shook them, trying to put them out.
Montagu laughed at her pain, and as he did, flames flew to
Sheila's face. She screamed, but her screams turned into flames
of her own, reaching half-way to Montagu then merging with his.
Montagu took a deep breath, inhaling his own and Sheila's flames,
then swallowing with a satisfied grin. Sheila's body crumpled to
the floor, a peaceful expression in her eyes as she exhaled her
"Brad!" Monica shouted. "It's him!"
Montagu turned toward Monica and smiled demonically. "Yes, I'm
Travis Montagu." Brad looked from Monica to Montagu, and without
knowing why, felt Monica needed his protection.
Brad stepped between them, eliciting a growl from Montagu,
followed by a trail of flames coming from the office then
encircling Brad's legs. "STOP IT!" Monica shouted, drawing her
gun. Brad stood, fixed in his place by a force beyond his
"We are legion," Montagu's voice sounded, the same voice Monica
had heard in her vision of Sheila's death. "We are powerful."
"Not more powerful than GOOD," Monica shouted. "Leave him
"GOOD?" Montagu laughed. He turned his attention to Brad, then
said, "Join us. We have the power you want!"
Montagu's eyes turned red, and flames reached toward Brad's face.
On instinct alone, Monica fired her gun, a single bullet, hitting
Montagu in the chest. "NO-O-O-O!!!!!" Montagu shouted as he flew
backward into his office. He hit the floor with a loud thud,
then stood and approached Brad again. "Come with us," he
gurgled. "Why stay with this weak one?" He took another step
toward Brad, and Monica fired again, this time hitting him in the
Montagu fell against the door jamb, then slid down, leaving a
trail of sizzling hot blood. Monica rushed to Brad, who was
still transfixed, and shook him. He came to as Monica wrapped
her arms around him. The pair held each other tightly as they
looked down on Montagu. Montagu's breaths came in tortured
gasps, until finally, with a loud rattle, he exhaled his last
breath, a white-hot gust that flew toward them, then detoured as
Monica shouted "NO!!!!!!" The gust circled them once then flew
into a vent and disappeared as Monica and Brad looked on. When
Monica looked down again Montagu's body was charred black, and
shriveled to half its size. "Did you see that?" she looked at
Brad, who was still in shock. "His body is..." She looked down
again and saw only a peaceful-looking Montagu, his body intact,
lying at their feet. Monica knelt to put a finger against the
man's jugular, and felt the same sense of coolness she'd felt
from Sheila's body.
"It's gone," she announced. "The evil. It's left him."
Brad knelt at her side and put his arm around her shoulders.
"What the hell was that?" he asked. "Do you know?"
She shook her head, but before she could say another word, they
heard the sound of a dozen agents running toward them. Brad
whispered into Monica's ear, "Let me do the talking."
Williams was understandably distressed at having a shooting in
his own building. The usual procedure was for the agents
involved to be put on two weeks' suspension, but in this case he
opted for a month for both Monica and Brad. Brad wondered about
the extended suspension, but after sharing his first day off with
Monica, a day spent mostly in bed with a long excursion into the
shower, he decided not to contest it.
For the next month, the couple explored the Tao of sex, took
trips to the Poconos and Atlantic City, and shared romantic
dinners in dark corners of upscale restaurants. They took
advantage of an unseasonably warm day to walk the boardwalk on
Coney Island, holding hands and brazenly kissing, and on an
unseasonably cold day they explored the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. To all appearances they seemed an ordinary couple,
honeymooning in the City that Never Sleeps. And by the end of
that month neither could imagine life without the other.
When they returned to duty, Williams announced that Brad would be
in charge of the Organized Crime Task Force, much to Brad's
surprise. He suspected some ulterior motive, and months later
his suspicion would be confirmed, but on the surface, Williams'
motives seemed solid. Brad's experience with the Narcotics
division in Los Angeles brought him into contact with one segment
of Organized Crime, and his courage in facing Montagu would be
respected by the mobsters he'd be pursuing. Monica would return
to the Crimes Against Children division, working under her former
partner, who would now be in charge. At first, she dreaded this
arrangement, but she soon realized she would now be spending less
time with him than before, and her new partner was much easier to
get along with. Pete would never forgive her for going behind
his back, and he watched her carefully at first. But she would
give him no reasons for reprimanding her, and he had to admit
finally that she was a damn good agent.
Two months after the shooting, Monica leaned against Brad as they
both read over files for their respective cases, the sofa in his
apartment sheltering them from the evils of the world. Brad
stopped reading and looked down into Monica's face, which was
earnestly scouring an autopsy report in search of new clues. She
felt the warmth of his gaze and looked into his eyes. "What is
it?" she asked.
"You," he said. "Just you."
"Just me what?" she laughed, putting down her files.
"Just you and how special you are," he said, stroking her hair.
"And how much I love you."
Monica looked up at him, beaming with joy. It was the first time
he'd said these words. "I love you too," she answered, as sure
of her feelings as she'd ever been sure of anything.
They set their work on the coffee table and made love on the
sofa, taking each other to new heights of pleasure, consummating
their words with their actions.
And as their souls joined together they couldn't hear the whirr
of the camera whose pictures would start in motion the forces
that would one day tear their souls apart.